Émile Gallé

Émile Gallé ( born May 4, 1846 in Nancy, † September 23, 1904 ) was a French artisans, which is particularly made ​​famous by the design of ceramics, glass and furniture in the style of Historicism and Art Nouveau. He is well-known representative of the French Art Nouveau ( Art Nouveau ) on arts and crafts area.


He was born in Nancy in a family of merchants of pottery and crystal. Already in his childhood, he was in the workshop of his father, Charles Gallé, with ceramic and glass art in touch. After his baccalauréat ( high school ), he studied philosophy, zoology, botany and mineralogy in Germany. He learned to work with glass and wood, specializing in glass blowing.

From 1862 to 1866 Gallé was sent to study in Germany in Weimar and Meisenthal in Moselle, where he studied the Modellierkunst and glass production. After another stay in London, where he represented his father's company in an exhibition Art de France, and Paris, he returned full of new impressions back to Nancy.

Here he experimented with new techniques of glassblowing ( marbling, reflections, layers of glass with inclusions of gold and silver foils, blisters ).

In 1874 he took over the management of his father's business, the international reputation gained little later. A year later he married the pastor's daughter Henriette Grimm. He moved into the studio La Garenne and established in 1883 a further workshop: It emerged workshops for pottery, glass and wood.

In 1885 he traveled to Berlin and studied at the Decorative Arts Museum, the famous collection of Chinese glass art.

He opened outlets in Paris (1885 ), Frankfurt ( 1887) and later in London. In 1889 he employed more than three hundred employees.

In the 1890s Gallé concentrated more and more on the glass art, although he previously won three gold medals for its faience work.

In 1901 he founded with his brothers Augustin and Antonin Daum and René Lalique and Gabriel Argy -Rousseau, the École de Nancy, which represented, among others, the interests of glass artists. He was its first president.

He died on 23 September 1904 in Nancy from leukemia. His widow and his son Paul Perdrizet led the operation until the early 30s on. However, it lacked the typical for the earlier years wealth of artistic and technical innovations.

Exhibitions and awards

  • Officer of the Legion of Honor, 1889
  • Commander of the Legion of Honor, 1900

Work and assessment

Although Gallé also occupied himself with wood and ceramic works, it is above all its glass and crystal work, which contributed to his international fame. His typical works include cameos glasses: monochrome blown vases that were captured with multiple layers of colored glass and cut into the various ornamental reliefs. In 1897 he invented a highly complicated technique called marquetry de verre, a sort of inlay in glass.

In his Verreries parlantes ( " Speaking glass art" ) he tried vases for specific text of contemporary symbolic Lyricist (eg, Baudelaire or Maurice Maeterlinck ) to model and had engraved appropriate lines of poetry.

His vases and lampshades are sought-after collector's items and are exhibited in many museums around the world. He got his inspiration from extensive involvement with nature: he was early on fascinated by the world of plants and put these impressions into his designs. Like many artists of his time Gallé was influenced by Japonism, whose style is again found in the ornamental decoration of some of his art glasses. Following the pattern of nature he made also furniture designs with partially precious inlay work, in which he combined indigenous and exotic wood effective.

Emile Galle is considered one of the most outstanding glass artists of his time. The art world owes her great and decisive progress in the development of glass art. He managed to combine intense colors and still got transparency of the glasses.


The 1948-born Swiss writer Martin Suter published in 2011 the novel Allmen and the Dragonflies ( ISBN 978-3-257-06777-4 ). At the center of the novel are five Gallé bowls with dragonflies. Their theft, sale and re-emergence in the context of insurance fraud worth millions and ruthless passion for collecting drive the action.